Asked on Oct 22, 2015

Ethan Allen furniture makeover

Cathy Smaha
by Cathy Smaha
I have several pieces of Ethan Allen Tavern pine pieces as well as a hutch and dining room table and chairs in cherry. Has anyone chalk painted any of these pieces? If so, what was the result?
Has anyone sanded, primed and painted any of these pieces? Can you share your experience?
I've heard Ethan Allen pieces are particularly difficult to refinish so would appreciate any advice! The pieces I have are solid but in need of a face lift.
Ethan Allen Tavern Pine hutch
Ethan allen end table of same design as dining room table and chairs
Ethan Allen Chairs for formal dining room.
  14 answers
  • Sandra Bennetch Sandra Bennetch on Oct 22, 2015
    Here's a great caned chair makeover I saw on Pinterest.
    • Cathy Smaha Cathy Smaha on Oct 26, 2015
      @Sandra Bennetch The chairs look beautiful. Unfortunately caning on several of the chairs are damaged.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 22, 2015
    The only site I found that could help you was videos on U-Tube. Maybe that will help you make a decision
  • Pamela Field Pamela Field on Oct 22, 2015
    Why would they be any harder than any other furniture painting? Prep properly and there shouldn't be any problem. I don't envy painting those shutters if you're planning on doing that by hand. good luck!
  • Barbara Barbara on Oct 23, 2015
    I'd try to sell these pieces as is on ebay. They are beautiful to some of us and purists like myself cringe at the words 'chalk paint' in conjunctions with Ethan Allen - quality wood furniture.
    • Dulce Dulce on Nov 03, 2015
      I am of the same opinion. I have Ethan Allen and Pennsylvania House sets in cherry wood and would never, ever think of painting them. Better to sell your pieces to people who appreciate them as is, and buy lesser, second hand furniture to paint to your heart's content. Just the humble opinion of a classic furniture lover.
  • CK CK on Oct 23, 2015
    I've not painted an Ethan Allen pieces but I suspect the difficulty comes in that with chalk paint (or any others for that matter) the stain 'bleeds' through. So you may want to use a latex primer first the paint with chalk paint if desired. My personal opinion is this: If you have furniture you still like/it's still sold but you're tired of it and you want to paint it, go right ahead. It's YOURS! :-) Do what you want with it :-)
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Oct 23, 2015
    I have not painted Ethan Allen furniture. But if you have your heart set on painting, I would take a non-matching piece and try your hand at chalk paint to see how you like it. I don't care that people say you don't have to prep before using chalk paint. Any painting project requires at least a little prepping and will determine your success. Good luck. I hope you post pictures.
  • Yedafeio Yedafeio on Oct 24, 2015
    I agree with Barbara sugestion to sell it if you don´t really like dark wood. I inherited a very dark dinning set and upholstered the chairs in pure white, cut cardboard pieces to fit the back of the hutch shelves, wraped them with the same fabric and fixed with double tape, filled it with bright colored pieces.I use simple white plates with bold printed napkins and solid color linens that I sew myself. It´s amazingly light and airy for much less pain and work.
  • Cathy Smaha Cathy Smaha on Oct 24, 2015
    Great ideas. Do you have any photos to share?
  • Joanne Moore Joanne Moore on Oct 24, 2015
    I have 3 of the exact same book shelf that I inherited from my parents. For years I have been wondering what to do with them since they are so dark. I think I am going to try Yedafeio's suggestion first before painting them..
  • Rose Rose on Oct 30, 2015
    you are looking at a project beyond.... Better off to sell it.
  • Edie Goodspeed Edie Goodspeed on Oct 30, 2015
    I painted a Ethan Allen pine sofa, came out great and gave it a new life! As to just selling it......more than likely whoever buys it will do the same thing, PAINT it! lol . I have painted other dark pine furniture because it is outdated, gave it a new life and put a smile on my face. If it will make you happy and smile....well go for it!! (BTW I have never used chalk paint, clean and light sand. Always prep well, worth it in the end!)
  • Lori Harmon Lori Harmon on Nov 01, 2015
    In addition to what Edie said, go over them with a fine eye looking for any nicks or dings. It seems to me that they are far less noticeable in wood than when you paint. Even if you're planning on distressing the pieces I don't think that would camouflage dings. You can use wood filler but make sure it's sanded smooth by feeling it with your eyes closed. I've read that some older dark finishes can bleed through chalk paint and you should seal it with a spray shellac. I have a piece that I didn't do that to and it took 3 or 4 coats of paint. (And I'm afraid to pull it out from the wall to look at the back where it was most noticeable.) You also need to shellac raw wood and no need to sand that before using chalk paint. As far as sanding, don't use anything more coarse than 220 or 320, you only need to degloss it a bit. And supposedly that's not necessary with chalk paint, but I've always done it because I'd rather do that than not and find the paint not holding. But since I have never sanded every square inch and haven't had any issues, I suspect that not sanding is OK. I think of the sanding as taking off furniture polish or other contaminants that I missed or the Windex didn't cut.
  • Carol Dahlien Carol Dahlien on Nov 03, 2015
    FOR THE HUTCH --leave as is and turn it into a family night area in your family room---have a theme night jars on one shelf -----one jar is a mystery theme---mixture of different activities and snacks---red paper--food items, ,white-movie, blue-games-----then one person is chosen to pick one color each. Keep a microwave on it and turn it into a snack bar with paper plates and cups or whatever for family night--if ordering pizza--microwave is there to reheat pizza, heat up hot cocoa or pop popcorn. Keep games below so they are handy. also good when kids have sleep overs. or if it's in your dining room/kitchen---use it for coffee time---set it up with your coffee maker and creamers and sugar, or teas with all the fixings right there. or turn it into a wet bar---make sure you put locks on the bottom part so the underage crowd can't get into it. OCTAGON END TABLE----TURN IT INTO A PET BED--OR A SMALL CURIO CABINET--BY ADDING GLASS----the chairs can be revamped into a bench for mud room or out doors or for entry way
  • Marilyn Barris Marilyn Barris on Nov 04, 2015
    Please don't sell it! I am currently working on a Hutch made by Heywood Wakefield, not the modern style everyone is paying an arm and a leg for but it's solid and has sooo much potential. I am turning mine into an apothocary style cabinet with faux drawers to mimic the small doors. I can't wait to finish it. I just finished a dresser turned bathroom vanity, complete with a matching mirror that has been made to look as if it is part of the set. They were bought at separate times and were different styles. Look around, see what you like and figure out a way to achieve that look. Good luck!